CLERMONT, Ky. — Bourbon drinkers have been mixing Jim Beam for years. Now, the maker of the world's top-selling bourbon is too.
Part of Illinois-based Fortune Brands Inc., Beam is preparing a national rollout of Red Stag, a specialty whiskey that infuses natural black cherry flavors into 4-year-old bourbon.
Even brand ambassador Fred Noe, a great-grandson of Jim Beam, sees the tinkering with a time-tested Kentucky tradition as a positive way to lure new customers.
"The bourbon purists might think it's a little too sweet," Noe said during an event touting Red Stag at Beam's Clermont distillery in central Kentucky.
"But for somebody who is not a big fan of bourbon, this may be an opportunity for them to enjoy bourbon in a little different way," he said.
The 80-proof Red Stag by Jim Beam, as the product formally is called, is being billed as Beam's biggest rollout since the launch of Jim Beam black label bourbon more than a decade ago. Shipments start June 1 after about a year and a half in development.
Chuck Cowdery, an American whiskey writer and author of "Bourbon, Straight," likes the taste.
"I think the quality of the infusion, the depth of the flavors is pretty sophisticated," he said. "It doesn't taste like they threw some flavor house cherry flavor in there."
The product could appeal to younger consumers who may prefer bourbon in cocktails rather than straight up, he said.